What are Federal Holidays?

Federal holidays in the United States (U.S.) are significant dates recognized by the federal government, leading to the closure of non-essential government agencies and granting paid time off to staff members. While these holidays are observed by banks, post offices, and schools, private organizations have discretion in offering paid time off on these days.

List of 11 Federal Holidays

  1. New Year’s Day (January 1)
  2. Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Third Monday in January)
  3. Presidents’ Day (Third Monday in February)
  4. Memorial Day (Last Monday in May)
  5. Juneteenth National Independence Day (June 19)
  6. Independence Day (July 4)
  7. Labor Day (First Monday in September)
  8. Columbus Day (Second Monday in October)
  9. Veterans Day (November 11)
  10. Thanksgiving Day (Fourth Thursday in November)
  11. Christmas Day (December 25)

Presidential Inauguration Day

In addition to the ten recognized federal holidays, Presidential Inauguration Day (January 20, or 21st if the 20th falls on a Sunday) is a paid holiday for employees in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area.

Federal Holidays and Weekends

When a federal holiday falls on a weekend, government employees are entitled to an “in lieu of” holiday on the nearest weekday before or after the actual holiday. For example, if Independence Day lands on a Saturday, employees receive a paid holiday on the preceding Friday. If it falls on a Sunday, employees observe the “in lieu of” holiday on the following Monday.

Federal versus National versus Public Holidays

While federal holidays are officially recognized by the U.S. government, it is important to note that the country does not have designated national or public holidays. The authority to designate holidays lies solely with Congress for federal institutions.

Federal Holidays and Private Companies

Private companies are not obligated to provide their employees with time off or additional compensation for working on federal holidays. Each organization has the autonomy to establish its own paid time off (PTO) policy. However, many companies choose to honor some or all of the ten federal holidays as part of their PTO policy. In industries where operations cannot cease for a day, such as healthcare or hospitality, alternative benefits like premium pay may be offered to compensate employees.